Haig's Command

Haig's Command

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by Denis Winter
     
 

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This book sets out to expose and analyze a major historical fraud. The author's theme is the Western Front in Haig's time - from the Somme to the armistice.

Using evidence that the documents from which previous histories have been written are tampered-with and often entirely rewritten versions of the truth - for example, a daily war diary was kept by all units

Overview

This book sets out to expose and analyze a major historical fraud. The author's theme is the Western Front in Haig's time - from the Somme to the armistice.

Using evidence that the documents from which previous histories have been written are tampered-with and often entirely rewritten versions of the truth - for example, a daily war diary was kept by all units up to GHQ and these were often altered by the Cabinet Office and crucial appendices totally removed. Cabinet war minutes were likewise rewritten, with reference to whole meetings often removed.

Records such as Haig's own diary were also tampered with, and Denis Winter even claims to have found documents which the war's official historian thought he had deliberately destroyed in the 1940s.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781844152049
Publisher:
Pen & Sword Books Limited
Publication date:
05/03/2005
Series:
Pen and Sword Military Classics Series
Pages:
462
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x 1.16(d)

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Haig's Command 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With this book Denis Winter seems to have launched a near-quixotic quest to get the real facts regarding Haig's command. One of the most important conclusions reached is that almost all the official histories, cabinet minutes, unit reports, and similar works have been very carefully vetted and 'cleaned up' before being published. Not even individual memoirs can be relied on as the gov't often had carrots and sticks in hand to deal with more independent-minded veterans. Winter suggests a broad, self-serving conspiracy by those at the top to preserve their reputations and to save the public the additional grief of learning that their sons/husbands/fathers may have died incidentally due to bureaucratic incompetence, amateurish leadership, or the sheer indifference of chateau generals. Winter deconstructs the official mythology regarding Haig and exposes him to be a well-connected careerist interested more in being field marshal than in pursuing the effective and successful leadership of his troops. This isn't so surprising or unusual in that most democracies at least initially heavily rely on political appointees in times of mass mobilization (American Civil War, Pershing, Smuts, etc.). However, Haig seems to have devoted much of his WWI energies intriguing for the top job and writing daily diary entries (apparently meant for later public consumption). How is it that so many leading British figures found time not only to keep copious, detailed diaries but also to manage an entire war? The book is divided into the following major sections: Haig's Credentials, The Attrition Battles of 1916-1917, The Attrition Period, 1918: A Year of Mobility, and Falsifying the Record. 'Haig's Credentials' examines how Haig's top-level connections with Esher and the king eventually unseated French and placed Haig securely in power for the remainder of the war. 'The Attrition Battles' critically analyzes Haig's refusal to stop a battle once it became obvious it would not succeed (usually the first 48 hours). 'The Attrition Period' looks at the Commonwealth armies under his command and his heavy reliance on Canadians and ANZACs. '1918' discusses Haig's poor preparations to meet the expected German spring offensives and his near panic, followed by placing supreme allied command into Foch's hands. 'Falsifying the Record' then goes into particular detail involving the cover-ups and manipulations of Haig's memoirs - apparently three different versions of them. Denis Winter's analysis is highly critical, but he does give Haig some due credit for correctly anticipating the time and place of the German attack. But for the most part, Winter shows Haig in the likely true light, that of an aspiring careerist officer struggling to learn the military side of his trade and often scapegoating others for his own failures, e.g. Charteris, and selectively releasing self-serving diary excerpts. All in all a very insightful book about Haig that I recommend to any serious student of WWI. Consider reading John Terraine's To Win a War for an alternative pro-Haig/establishment view.